Tips for Planning Your Christmas Dinner Outdoors
The holidays and specifically Christmas celebrations may look different this year, but that does not mean that the festivities must stop entirely. There are still plenty of ways to celebrate the season in style while keeping your family and your guests safe. One of the hallmarks of the holidays is a festive holiday dinner, but indoor dining is not the best idea right now. Thankfully, there are ways you can host your dinner outside without sacrificing the comforts you and your guests are used to. Here are some helpful and creative suggestions to plan your outdoor Christmas dinner so you can end the long year of 2020 with the best dinner party possible.
The holiday season lands at the peak of winter for half the world, which means that Christmas dinner is typically a cold time of year. Hosting a dinner party outside in the middle of winter might not sound appealing or even possible, but there are ways to make it work. Start by giving guests a way to stay warm inside your house if they need a break from the chilly outdoors. Ensure your home heating is running, use your propane water heater to quickly supply hot water to sinks and showers, have a stash of blankets or jackets guests can borrow and offer warm drinks to keep people’s hands warm. You can go the extra mile and rent outdoor space heaters if you want to be absolutely sure no one is freezing at dinner. Advise guests to dress for the weather, which will vary greatly depending on your location. If you have snow on the ground for dinner, consider building it up to make snow walls or barriers, which help conserve heat.
If you are inviting younger children to your Christmas dinner, it may be a good idea to set up some mid-dinner entertainment for them. Parents don’t want to babysit their kids in the middle of a meal, so if you can supply distractions or entertainment for the kids, everyone gets to enjoy dinner. Snow can be a free distraction, but you don’t want kids throwing snow across the dinner table. You can set up a kids’ play area either inside or outdoors, but you can go above and beyond by adding a tie-dye station with disperse dyes that are bound to keep the kids occupied for a good while.
Planning a dinner party takes a lot of work, and it can be too much for one person to handle. There are no universal rules that say you must prep and cook everything yourself. If you are feeling overwhelmed, outsource some aspects of the planning and call in some professional help. If you don’t have time to cook all the courses or dishes, use a local restaurant to supply the dishes you can’t make. You can also use rental companies for outdoor furniture or space heaters, so you don’t have to drag your lovely table outside yourself.
Planning And Pacing
In more conventional times, everyone would sit down for a long dinner and not get up until the meal was over. However, when dining outside in the middle of winter, sitting down for long stretches of time isn’t the most appealing idea. Instead of committing to one long meal, consider doing single-serving dishes with breaks indoors in between so people can warm up again, and the next meal can be prepared. Everyone should understand that Christmas dinner is going to work differently this year, so do not be afraid to change up the dinner’s pacing to suit the unique situation.
Do not think you must cook everything the day of the dinner either. If you can make and store dishes ahead of time, take advantage of the prep days. Stuffing, gravy, sauces, desserts, and more can all be made ahead of time and safely stored until they are needed. Your guests will not be able to tell your sauce has been in the fridge for three days, so do not overwhelm yourself trying to hit a goal that no one else is going to notice.
Christmas dinner might look different this year, but there are still ways you can make the meal magical for you and your guests. Focus on finding ways to keep everyone warm, even if it means taking breaks after smaller dishes. Set up some entertainment for younger kids who can’t sit through a whole dinner, use outsourced help to supply things you don’t have time to make yourself, and start prepping days in advance to save time the day of the dinner.